War and the Liberal Hegemony

Why did the United States intervene in the Second World War? The question is rarely asked because the answers seem so obvious: Hitler, Pearl Harbor, and what more needs to be said? To most Americans, World War II was the quintessential “war of necessity.” As the late Charles Krauthammer once put it, “wars of choice,” among which he included Vietnam and the first Gulf War, are “fought for reasons of principle, ideology, geopolitics or sometimes pure humanitarianism,” whereas a “war of necessity” is a “life-or-death struggle in which the safety and security of the homeland are at stake.” If World War II is remembered as the “good war,” the idea that it was “necessary” is a big part of the reason why. The enemies were uniquely wicked and aggressive; Americans were attacked first; they had no choice but to fight. This perception of World War II has had a paradoxical

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